Reviewing Indie Authors One Book at a Time

Posts tagged ‘mythology’

Leaves of the World Tree-Adam Misner

LWT-AMAppropriately titled, this collection of short stories takes the reader to several corners and centuries of the world, from Vikings to Pirates to contemporary characters in modern settings. Tailored with obvious affection for the written word and with conscientious word choice, the stories capture the reader’s imagination with graphic details of physical battles and the delicate touch of describing inner moral conflicts.

To select a favorite in this collection, I found the last installment, “There are No White Knights” the most appealing.  The ritual battle between two knights of the court becomes a morale battle between two men, one who enjoys slaughter for slaughter’s sake and the other who slaughters for righteous purpose.

4 Stars – An author with affection for the written word.

He Who Wields the Sun – Brenden Parkins

Tsbphere are stories of a sword that can boil oceans that was created by Ulraek, the flame-maned lion god of the sun. The sword appears to have passed through the hands of mortals from time to time and epic stories form a trail of ownership, but no one is certain of its whereabouts or if the existence is true.

Our narrator is a man from a noble and wealthy house. He is well-educated for his time and place and has been enjoying a leisurely tour of the country for a few years.  When he begins to tell us the story, he claims to already have the sword in his possession. Because he understands that the story he about to convey will be misconstrued as apocryphal, he attempts to ensure the reader of his sincerity by giving us an oath:

“To make no attempt to deceive, alter, or corrupt the truth.”

This first person account, told as a long tale of the narrator’s past, depicts how he learned of the secret passages to the other realms where the gods reside. He intends to speak to Ulraek face-to-face and ask for the sword in a most straightforward manner. But as gods are usually fickle and cryptic creatures, our narrator leaves empty-handed. So how does he possess the sword?

Read this tale to find out.

I enjoyed reading this first short story in the collection of the Chronicles of the Sunsword by Brenden Parkins. Lovers of myth and fantasy will enjoy the well-described characters. Our narrator, Jal’Derren, is a man free of any familial obligations, the son of a general and a council member, well-read and well-taught by his father. Jal’Derren suffers from wander-lust, and he enjoys traveling far and wide. His father is the keeper of a large library and a vast amount of internal knowledge, and he wishes his son would return home, marry, and prepare to take possession of the estate and wealth. He would be greatly honored for his son to wield Suthara, the Sunsword. I’m interested to see how the Chronicles progress.

4 Stars – An enjoyable story with world-building and myth-building that enhance the telling of the tale. I found a couple of spots that were confusing about the geographical map I built in my mind as I read, and the father makes a confusing back-pedal on his statements that almost makes me wonder if the old man is senile.

Available on Amazon.com along with the continuation of the Chronicles.

 

 

 

Spotlight Author – C. S. Boyack

It’s time for another Rave Reviews Book Club Spotlight Author!

C. S. Boyack has a new book out called The Cock of the South. This is his first attempt at writing fantasy. It involves a group of conquered peoples banding together to ensure they have a place in the world. It is set in a Greco-Roman environment, rife with everything fans of those stories might expect. Craig author pic

Let’s turn this post over to him.

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The main character in The Cock of the South is a lost member of the Southern Dwarves. He was taken as an infant, by a young officer as a trophy of war. Raised as Paulus Atrius by humans, the townsfolk all call him Cobby. A cob is a short coupled horse.

Cobby grows up as a Remsian citizen. He is a local merchant, and is talented with his hands. He makes timepieces and blows glass into beautiful hourglasses. When the peaceful coastal city is raided, the locals lash out at him as a member of the ruling family.

Cobby is a great character to explore this strange world through. He really doesn’t know much more than his sheltered life has shown him. Readers get to learn about the nation of Remus and the Southern Dwarves along with Cobby.

There are other fantastic creatures out there, and Cobby soon becomes acquainted with them. He learns that Remus views them as little more than an amusement for their use, or abuse as the case may be.

They are all worth money, some for the horns on their heads, others as entertainment in the arena, and still others as bed slaves. They live like refugees and are on constant watch.

Cobby knows more about Remsian society than the others. He is kind of a reluctant hero. He’s not a great fighter, and gets hurt frequently. He has the ability to make good friends though, and there is safety in numbers.

I had a great time writing The Cock of the South, and I hope everyone will give it a chance.

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Cockof the southHow writers go about producing a story is always an interesting topic. I love reading about the process of others. Rather than just lurk, I decided to talk about my own machinations as I wrote The Cock of the South.

I keep quick notes in an app on my phone. These are just a line or two to remind me of stray thoughts. When I keep dwelling on an idea I take out a notebook and fountain pen and expand the idea a bit. If it really sticks with me I start a storyboard.

This is my first fantasy story. Being true to the genre was important to me. I actually did mountains of research into mythology to spark my imagination. I didn’t want to rewrite one of those tales, so I stole bits and pieces to weave into my stories. I made small piles of index cards. These didn’t all get used, but I like to have notes to refresh my imagination.

It was equally important to me that I was true to the setting. Ancient Rome and Greek mythology are something readers are used to, and I wanted to use this to ground the story. I find that building fences with plot and setting serve as a governor to my imagination. The imagination flows and focuses in a different direction. My storyboard was covered with sticky notes to include more marble columns and bath houses at one point.

When it comes to characters I try to be a bit different. Hercules might be the best hero, but what if someone less qualified had to solve all the problems? I found a lost member of the Southern Dwarves who was raised by humans. His dwarven heritage has been hidden from him, and he lives as a short broad human. Because of his physical makeup the people around him nicknamed him Cobby.

I also wanted the freedom to vary some of the historical parts of the story. I stewed on this for a long time, but in fantasy the world ought to be different. It was a delicate balance to preserve the setting and believably change some elements. I dug deep into mythology and decided that Remus killed Romulus. Rome never got built and the nation of Remus took its place. This allowed me to modify weapons, change trade routes, and still keep some familiarity in the story.

I always try to challenge myself to try something new with each story. This isn’t obvious to the reader, but it’s important for my growth. In The Cock of the South I wanted to use fairytale structure. This is a great way of telling a story, but casual readers might not pick up on everything.

Since this post is likely to be read by as many authors as readers here are some things I included. Cobby is the outsider of three brothers. Each brother represents one facet of the father. Cobby will have to master all three of these elements before he can succeed. There is a scene involving magical gifts from a friend. If you pay very careful attention, there are even seven dwarves together on one adventure. I included more elements, but this is a blog post and you’ll have to watch for others as you read the story.

I love this story, but readers will be the ultimate judge. I hope you’ll give The Cock of the South a chance. I had a great time writing it, and hope you’ll enjoy reading it.

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You can follow Craig at the following places:

His blog – Entertaining Stories

On Twitter

Pick up a copy of The Cock of the South

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Fargoer – Petteri Hannila

FargoerWritten originally in the Author’s native Finnish, this work has been translated to English for sales in the US.

Set in the forests of Northern Europe, Fargoer: A Viking Age Tale describes the life of Vierra, a tribeswoman of the Kainu, beginning with her ascension into womanhood. While her own tribal society is matriarchal, she is pitted against both men and spirits as she progresses through the years to her ultimate destiny.

This tale is delivered in an epic style, merging the mythologies of Scandinavia with fantasy, reminding me of stories from the spoken word traditions that place the main characters in situations to test their strength and determination against powerful opposing forces.

Constructed from a string of short stories, similar in style to Martian Chronicles by Bradbury, the novel leads us through the journey of Vierra, from her prepubescent years living with her chieftain aunt and cousin into the life of a quiet hunter, an outsider even among her own tribe. Throughout her life’s trials and triumphs, we are introduced to a variety of spirit identities. We observe the rituals and rites of her people contrasted with those of the Vikings and other tribes who appear in the narrative. The work is sprinkled with poetic chants and songs.

As I looked through other reviews of Fargoer, I noticed that some readers complained that the writing was boring, as if there was not enough action from page-to-page to evoke their interest. I found the opposite to be true, with almost every detail of this book drawing my attention, down to the very last description of the tribal huts. Action is important in any adventure: if the destination were the only purpose of writing, then there would be no point in telling a story at all. What is a story without setting a scene? – describing the landscape, the clothes, the homes of the characters. In between the bursts of exterior action, we need to dwell inside the characters thoughts, to see how the events affect their personalities, to understand how those actions affect us as the readers. To understand her destiny, Vierra must accept her actions and her own justification for each one. The reader is prompted to consider how he or she might handle those same events.

This novel evenly disperses meaningful description of the tribal lands and traditions with the swift fighting action.

This book receives an exuberant 5 Stars from me.

Find Fargoer on Amazon.com.

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I asked Petteri to answer a few questions, and he obliged with some fascinating information.

Q: Where is your native country/state?
A:  I come from Finland, and to be exact from Central Finland area. I was born and raised in countryside and even though my parents weren’t farmers there were lot of them among my relatives. Even though I live in the city now, originating from ”the end of the sandy road” has probably had an effect on me.

Q: Do you prefer writing in your native language?
A: Yes. I prefer to write in Finnish and then possibly to translate my texts in English. The translation projects have been joint efforts, as I am not good enough on my own do translate fiction.

Q: When (or at what age) did you first become interested in writing stories?
A:  I started reading my first novels when I was eight. From those days I have linked fantastic adventures with books, but it took fairly long to get going. I wrote some poetry in the 90’s (horrible by the way) but it wasn’t until around 2008 or 2009 when I got going. It was a long process for me.

Q: What does your writing process entail?
A:  I write a lot of short fiction which usually starts with a strong idea or an emotional state. From there flows the concept and the story itself in quite a short time. I am a sporadic writer with long times of non-productivity and then short bursts of creation. It is kind of stressful for me sometimes, but there has been no way around it. I am still experimenting with different working methods, currently I write my draft versions with pen and paper. It is interesting to find out how different ways of doing things affect the results.

For longer stuff I usually have a long ”incubation period”. Fargoer took four years to make, and it seems that my future projects take a long time as well.

Q: How do you create your characters?
A:  My characters are a mix created out of my experiences with real people, the needs of the particular story, and quirky whims that my imagination stirs up. Usually they kind of develop themselves when they are written into the storyline, I do not plan so much of characters beforehand. This sometimes leads to re-writing, but for me it has been the best way so far.

A:  Who or what was the inspiration for Vierra?
Q: I am privileged to have been lived my life around strong and independent women. My grandmother and mother are such figures, and I have had a chance to meet many more. This is the basis of the character herself. I have also been interested of the ”warrior women” or amazon-myths as they seem plenty and can be found within many cultures. I tried to create Vierra and her culture as a believable warrior woman and a culture to match: a pseudo-historical entity but without over-the-top implications that plague most of the explorations of these myths.

Q: Give us an insight into your main character. What does she do that is so special?
A:  Well, for the reader she represents a unique culture. A matriarchal hunter-gatherer society in the northern forests. But she is a kind of an outcast in her own culture as well. Perhaps the most overwhelming aspect of her is ”sisu”, a Finnish word for guts that we pride ourselves of. A person with ”sisu” goes through obstacles even in grim situations with sheer stubborn determination and inability to give up. This, and her other traits make her flawed, but interesting character in my point of view.

Q: Is there a moral/social idea you wished to convey through “Fargoer”?
A:  I don’t like conveying agendas but I like to convey ideas and things for the reader to ponder with. With Fargoer I would say there are few: social status of an outcast is one of them. Anti-religious tendencies in a world with clear supernatural involvement is another. Clashing of cultures of different livelihoods is third. Destiny of an individual is probably the fourth.

Q: What drew you to writing a story based in the age of the Vikings?
A: I would say it is the way the era is underused in fantasy literature. Most of fantasy seems to be based on High Medieval period and different variations of Middle Ages. I think Viking Age has very interesting things to give for fantasy literature. There are more original cultures and different religions present than in later periods, when the influence of the church has grown. Vikings themselves brought an element of multi-culturalism as they traded and raided in many areas, creating an exchange of ideas and goods all the way from northern sea to the Arabs. Level of sophistication ran all the way from hunter-gatherers to quite sophisticated Caliphate.

Q: How closely do the spirits and chants in your book mirror actual tribal mysticism?
A: I’ve tried to mimic the feel and methods of ancient Finnish poetry for the chants. In Finnish version they are written in old Kalevala-meter but translated poetry uses rhymes as it is more natural to English language. Poems and mythology described in Fargoer is not an exact copy of the traditional Finnish mythology, but the ancient reality was not either. Especially Kalevala was created in an age of rising national awareness and does not represent the whole spectrum of myths and beliefs that really existed. In this light, my work is not authentic, but neither are the other works derived from ancient poetry.

Q: What’s the one major piece of advice you would give to a first-time novel writer?
A: I would say, try to find your own voice and your own way of doing things. Use tips and tricks used by others but do not get caught up with them, the best methods for you are the ones which make you pound those words in.

Q: What’s the biggest lesson you learned from writing your first book?
A: Writing a book is a huge task, especially if you are very self-conscious of your work. I guess I can say big accomplishments can come out of small things done regularly for a long time.

Q: What are you currently working on?
A: Currently I am writing short stories. The follow-up for Fargoer is in the works but it seems to take longer than I predicted. I have learned not to fret over such things too much, so I currently write stuff that comes out naturally. I have many novel-size projects in my mind besides Fargoer’s sequels, it will be interesting to see when they decide to come out. 🙂

Q: How do you relax?
A: I practice aikido in addition to writing so physical activity is also very important for my well-being. Books, movies and music also seem to work, as they seem for the most of us. As a family man I enjoy being home and seeing my boy grow and learn new things.

Q: Any last notes or words of inspiration or encouragement you would like to leave?
A: “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” – Vince Lombardi
“Big things have small beginnings” – Lawrence of Arabia

To Connect with Petteri, you can click on the following links:

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/fargoerbooks

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fargoerbook

Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/Petteri-Hannila/e/B009QIJXP0

Creativia Publishing:  http://www.creativia.org/fargoer—day-of-the-dead.html
Day of the dead is a short story set in the world of Fargoer (and it touches the storyline depicted in the novel). You can download it for free from Creativia’s web site.

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